The shipping consultancy SeaIntel Maritime Analysis has partnered with Appropriate Communications, a public relations agency focusing on maritime and logistics in emerging markets, to start a new portal that gives status updates on ports in Africa.
was launched Monday after two months of live operation, the two companies said in a statement. The portal shows, in map form, status reports on Africa’s 50 most important container terminals and related logistics infrastructure.
“Africa really has made some significant steps forward in opening its doors to international trade in the past decade,” said SeaIntel Chief Executive Officer Lars Jensen. “We have seen an influx of international terminal operators, carriers, supply chain solution providers, as well as a host of new entrepeneurs from all parts of the world. Africa has shown and continues to show immense potential.”
But the continent’s containerized goods movement network is often fraught with port congestion, work stoppages, government inaction, natural disasters, and civil wars, and information can be difficult to rely on.
“Many ports face significant capacity challenges as well as the urgent need to improve hinterland connections to and from its emerging markets,” the companies said. “The portal has been designed to empower importers, exporters, traders and forwarders with information in order for them to take proactive decisions on how to move their cargo for their customers.”
SeaIntel noted in its most recent Sunday Spotlight
report that more than 41 percent of incidents in Africa that affect the transit of cargo either involve intermodal incidents, force majeure events or challenges posed by local governance or industrial relations (or, in other words, outside of marine terminals).
Information on the portal is overlaid on a Google map of Africa, with information provided by a network of local independent editors.
“We are not proclaiming to have every incident and positive development covered in every corner of Africa” Jensen said. “But what we do have is neutral, factual information provided by independent sources, some of whom are logistics operators themselves.”
Victor Shieh, managing director at Appropriate Communications and previously a spokesman for Safmarine, said the idea came about after making up a single slide a couple of years ago with a map of Africa showing everything that happened along the coast over a three-week period.
“In this first week of January 2013 we have seen disruptions in the supply chain due to civil disturbances outside a terminal, heavy rainfall leaving a major hinterland connection broken, the reversal of a planned change in customs clearance procedures, and a tropical cyclone carrying 120-kilometer per hour winds,” Shieh said. “Similarly we have seen a record improvement in productivity of one operator and a $185 million investment by a Chinese company in another.” - Eric Johnson